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Fact File and Convict Record Task

1788 – 1868
1. About 168,000 convicts in total were transported to Australia.
2. The transportation sentences were normally, 7, 14 or 21 years, although
a life sentence could also be given.
3. 76,000 convicts came to Van Diemens Land between 1803 – 1853.
4. Van Diemens Land was seen as an ideal prison because it was an island,
with nearly 300 kilometres of ocean (Bass Strait) between it and the
5. Hobart Town was the second colony in Australia, after Botany Bay.
6. The first settlement in VDL was at Risdon Cove in 1803.
7. Collins replaced Bowen as Commandant, and moved the settlement
from Risdon to Hobart in 1804 – around the docks area – for a better
water supply.
8. Out of the 76,000 convicts around 13,000 were women.
9. The English workhouses did not want the children of the female
convicts, so the children were sent out too. They were separated from
their mothers at the dock in Hobart Town, and sent to the Orphan
Schools in New Town, from where they would either be collected by a
parent some years later, or apprenticed out.
10. Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur maintained a black book system on
the convicts, where each convict would be documented – along with
height, colouring, distinguishing features or birth marks, and conduct on
the ship out. The ship was also named, as well as the place of sentencing,
the crime and details of the sentence. He then ordered a numbering
system with 1 being the best behaved (and most likely to secure an early
parole) and 8 being the worst – normally repeat offender.
11. Port Arthur was begun as a timber camp in 1830. In 1833, Lieut-Gov
Arthur ordered a main hub to be built. The isthmus provided an
excellent prison. There was a coal mine at Salt River, the main
penitentiary at Port Arthur with various trades being operated such as a
saw pit, boat building and boot making. In one year, 3000 boots were
made and sent to soldiers throughout the Empire. Only repeat offenders
were ever sent to Port Arthur. Point Puer for juvenile criminals was
established cross the bay. It was the first juvenile detention centre in the
Empire. All convicts at Port Arthur and Point Puer were taught to read,
write and calculate sums, as well as being taught a trade. This was to
encourage them to be able to be good citizens in the future by having a
means to earn their own living.
12. By the late 1840’s, settlers particularly around the Launceston area were
fed-up with large amounts of convicts being chained together on the
roads. They felt that VDL should not be a dumping ground for the
flotsam and jetsam of Britain. The Legislative Council and other land
owners formed an Anti-transportation League, and they petitioned the
British Government repeatedly to end transportation. Part of their claim
was that it was similar to slavery, and therefore should be abolished.
13. The claim was eventually accepted and the last convict ship arrived in
1853. From 1853-1868, convicts were sent to Perth W.A. and in 1868,
transportation ceased altogether.
14. In 1856, Van Diemens Land settlers wishing to remove the ‘convict
stain’, decided to rebrand the island, and the name Tasmania was
chosen, in order to attract more free settlers.
Each student will need to have a computer to do this.
Find a convict and write up what happened to him/her in your
1. Convict Records (Tasmanian Archives Online):
2. Scroll down to Conduct Records
3. 1803-1843 Assignment System: male (CON31)
Female (CON40)
4. Scroll down to Items
5. Choose a volume – done alphabetically.
6. Choose a name
7. Note down the Item number e.g. CON40/1/6
8. Choose an Image on the left hand margin e.g. Image 16
9. There are several names, choose one and zoom in.
10. Decipher as much as you can about the person.
11. Remember that double ‘s’ was often written as B, as in German.
12. Reference your work: TAHO, CON40/1/6 Image 16.
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